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'"Dear Ma:" The Civil War Letters of Curtis Clay Pollock' Now Available

I am very happy to announce that "Dear Ma:" The Civil War Letters of Curtis Clay Pollock, First Defender and First Lieutenant, 48th Pennsylvania Infantry is now available. This book was a long time in the making and a project that very nearly never came to fruition. Show More Summary

Henry Louis Gates and PBS Fall For Black Confederate Myth…Again

Tonight’s episode of PBS’s Finding Your Roots, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, included a segment on Bryant Gumbel’s family history. His family’s roots in New Orleans led to the revelation […]

Tea Party Seeking Tea, of All Things

The Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum has started to publicize this year’s reenactment of Boston’s last meeting about the East India Company’s tea and the destruction of that cargo which followed.That press release refers to the commemoration...Show More Summary

A Fifth of November Wagon Rolls Again

It’s been nearly twenty years since I started to research Revolutionary Boston intensely. At first my goal was to develop a sense of what it was like for a young apprentice to live in Boston in 1770.Among the early books I read was Patricia Bradley’s Slavery, Propaganda, and the American Revolution. Show More Summary

The View From Charleston’s John C. Calhoun Monument

Today I am blogging from Charleston, South Carolina, where I am working with students at Ashley Hall. Today I took part in a student-led discussion about four readings that deal […]

Henry Hulton and “twenty Devils, Popes, & Pretenders”

I’ve focused on Charles Paxton as the chief target of Boston’s Pope Night processions in 1767, but two other new Commissioners of His Majesty’s Customs arrived in Boston on that same Fifth of November.One was Henry Hulton, born in 1732 in Hampshire, England. Show More Summary

“He fitted himself with a Pair of Women’s Shoes”?

I’ve been discussing the public image of Customs official Charles Paxton (shown here in the Massachusetts Historical Society’s portrait). Paxton’s neighbors teased him for his elaborate courtesy and his bachelor status. A big part of...Show More Summary

“Poor Charles the batchelor that was once master of the ceremonies”

When I say that Customs official Charles Paxton was “queer,” I’m not claiming to know whom he had sex with, or wanted to have sex with. I’m saying that Bostonians saw something odd in Paxton’s lifestyle and manners, and they teased him for supposedly lacking masculinity. Show More Summary

Charles Paxton, Customs Commissioner

Charles Paxton (1708-1788, shown here in a portrait at the American Antiquarian Society) was a major figure in Boston’s 1767 Pope Night procession.Not as a member of the North End or South End Gangs, to be sure. Paxton was the target...Show More Summary

A Civil War Historian’s Talking Points

Yesterday historian Aaron Astor posted a list of talking points on his Facebook page that he utilizes when discussing the Civil War with the general public. It is well worth […]

A Stone For Captain Fisher. . .

When last in Pottsville, I took a quick drive through the Odd Fellows' Cemetery, where the remains of many 48th Pennsylvania soldiers were laid to rest. Near the plot of those who died or were killed in the Civil War, I was happy to see a new headstone, one for Peter Fisher, a First Defender and a Captain of Company D, 48th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Show More Summary

How Bostonians Pledged Not to Buy Imported Goods

A few days back, I quoted from the town meeting on 28 Oct 1767 that set out Boston’s response to the Townshend Act. (That meeting is part of the inspiration for the “Devil and the Crown” public-history event in the works for this Saturday.)That...Show More Summary

General Kelly’s Civil War

Yesterday everyone was talking about White House chief of staff John Kelly’s interview with Laura Ingraham of Fox News in which he laid out his understanding of the Civil War. […]

“My hair rose on end, and seemed to lift my hat from my head”

Since this is Hallowe’en, I’ll relay a story from the newspaper publisher and politician Benjamin Russell (1761-1845), who grew up in Boston before the Revolutionary War.The printer Joseph T. Buckingham set down and published Russell’s...Show More Summary

Dr. Samuel Loomis Meets Abraham Lincoln

I am a huge fan of John Carpenter’s Halloween series. It has become a sort of tradition for me every October to watch each film multiple times leading up to […]

The Confederate Battle Flag is Coming After You

The Latino Victory Fund, a Democratic group released this video ad featuring a pickup truck flying a Confederate flag and sporting a bumper sticker for Republican Ed Gillespie chasing a […]

“Then let Adams be sung by each patriot tongue”

Today is John Adams’s birthday (under the Gregorian Calendar, as he observed most of his life). In his honor, here are the lyrics that Jonathan Mitchell Sewall (1748-1808) wrote in President Adams’s honor in 1798. Sewall followed the...Show More Summary

“The Devil and the Crown” at Faneuil Hall, Nov. 4

On Saturday, 4 November, Faneuil Hall will host a reenactment of the Boston town meeting I described yesterday, setting up a non-importation boycott against the Townshend duties. Meanwhile, in the surrounding marketplace volunteers will reenact an outdoor public demonstration against the royal officials who came to Boston to collect those duties. Show More Summary

Confederate Veterans Remember Their Days of Service in the Klan

We expend a great deal of energy re-casting Confederate soldiers as engaged in a constitutional struggle or defense of home that had nothing to do with the protection of slavery. […]

Boston’s Urgent Town Meeting 250 Years Ago

On 28 Oct 1767, two hundred fifty years ago today, Boston held a special town meeting in Faneuil Hall to discuss an urgent threat. As stated in a broadside issued after the meeting:the excessive Use of foreign Superfluities is the chief...Show More Summary

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